Does IV vitamin therapy work?

A typical visit lasts 30 to 60 minutes and costs $100 to $300 (or more). Neither therapy is FDA approved or likely to be covered by health insurance.

IV vitamin therapy was developed in the 1960s by Baltimore’s John Myers (the Myers Cocktail, a popular formula, was named after him by a colleague) as a method of treating conditions such as asthma attacks, migraines and fibromyalgia. A clinical study of the effect of the Myers cocktail on fibromyalgia patients found some improvement but no statistically significant results.

More recently, concentrated vitamin infusions have been used by celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen and Gwyneth Paltrow. The dubious claims are that they can cure hangovers, increase energy, “supercharge your body’s defenses” or “turn back time”. Some clinics go even further by falsely saying that IV therapy can relieve symptoms of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and various neurodegenerative diseases.

Vitamin supplementation is not harmful in itself and can be life-saving for premature babies or people with known deficiencies. But our bodies only need them in trace amounts — often just a few milligrams — which can be easily achieved through a balanced diet. Water-soluble vitamins – ie vitamin C and the B vitamin family – are cannot be stored in our body and even slight excess will come out in our urine. the Fat-soluble vitamins – ie vitamins A, D, E and K – can be stored in our liver, adipose tissue and muscles and can be dangerous in excess.

Given that we require vitamins in such small amounts and have critical mechanisms in our gut to store or eliminate them once ingested, is there any reason to undergo recreational IV vitamin drops?

Experts say no. Here’s why.

Drop bars claim that they can boost immunity, delay aging or even prevent serious diseases, all of which are myths.

Take the common claim that vitamin C supplements protect us from colds and other infections. “Have large-scale trials repeated shown that there is no proof to support this,” said Ariel IgalProfessor in the Department of Human Nutrition at Columbia University. studies A look at high-dose vitamin C supplementation to ease Covid-19 symptoms has also emerged With empty hands.

So where does this mindset come from? “Mainly from scarcity studies,” Igal said. “There is some literature showing associations between vitamin C deficiency and greater susceptibility to disease. People have extrapolated this data to believe that the opposite must also be true. But so far, that just hasn’t been the case.”

Despite some variabilityour daily requirement for vitamin C is estimated to be between 65 to 90 milligrams and can be easily obtained from our diet. The highest daily dose with no known risks is around 2,000 mg, about the amount of vitamin C we normally have in our bodies. But some drip poles pump off meteredly high as 25,000 mgall of which are excreted in the urine just a few hours later.

“People need to realize that these massive doses are not being stored in your body for prolonged immunity,” Igal said. “Your body is like a gas tank. If you put in more than the tank can hold, it doesn’t make the car any better or faster – the extra fuel just leaks out.”

Claims that drops releasing the vitamin B3-associated molecule NAD+ can fight back are similarly false. While there is some evidence that low NAD+ levels may be present involved when it comes to brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease, there are no clinical studies that conclusively show that the opposite is also true – ie that NAD+ intake can slow down our natural aging processes. This is not a surprise as NAD+ is just one of them hundreds of molecules affected by aging and adding one will not affect the others.

“I often have patients who say they heard about a new antioxidant or other mood-boosting intravenous supplement from a friend and ask if I recommend it,” he said Zachary Mulvihill, an integrative physician at Weill Cornell Medicine. “I don’t recommend it to anyone unless there’s a medical need — like if someone has trouble absorbing from the stomach.”

Mulvihill’s typical approach involves a focus on nutrition and lifestyle. “You want antioxidants? Have a cup of blueberries. You want glutathione? Have cruciferous vegetables like kale and broccoli. There’s a lot we can do more naturally to improve your health without having to stick a needle,” he said.

Drip bars also tout the ability of their products to improve heart disease — the main cause of death in America. But Tracy K. Paul, a preventive cardiologist at Weill Cornell Medicine, is skeptical. “There is no conclusive evidence in the peer-reviewed literature that antioxidants, vitamin C, selenium, and all of these infusions can successfully prevent heart disease from developing or worsening,” she said.

The Federal Trade Commission is aware of misleading marketing by IV clinics. In 2018, she took action against such companies for the first time charge a Texas-based intravenous infusion company for making false claims about treating serious illnesses with unproven infusion cocktails. When clinics started touting that their immunity-boosting cocktails could protect against infection with Covid-19, the FTC warnings issued also about these claims.

But what about people who swear by the benefits of intravenous fluids? “The placebo effect can do wonders for your mind,” Igal said. “If you’re dehydrated and put on a saline drip, I’m sure you’ll feel better.”

Infusions are essential for hospital medicine. And while putting on an IV line is not inherently unsafe when done properly, it is certainly invasive and not without risk. There is always a possibility of infection at the injection site. And in rare cases, the vein can become inflamed or blocked by a clot. People should also be wary of allergic reactions to the infused ingredients.

Current regulations allow only a select group of healthcare providers to administer intravenous infusions. This includes Physicians, RNs, PAs, NPs and Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) with specific certification, which is why it is important for drip pole customers to verify the company’s licensing. In 2015 the Florida Department of Health cracked down on a number of IV clinics where unlicensed staff were providing IV treatments.

Another big issue is the hygiene of the area where the IV cocktails are mixed. “We have absolutely no idea if these IV sets use sterile preparation and storage techniques before being placed in people’s veins,” said Adina Hirsch, a registered nutritional support pharmacist in Atlanta who specializes in IV nutrition.

In October 2021, the FDA released a statement Highlighting concerns related to compounding using the example of the case of a 50-year-old woman who was hospitalized with a systemic infection after receiving an IV vitamin infusion at home. Upon inspection, they found the compounding area had peeling paint, dirty equipment, and dusty air vents littered with dirt and expired ingredients.

“There are so many things going on behind the scenes of these unregulated businesses that the FDA is only now beginning to learn about,” Hirsch said. “I just hope people exercise caution before buying into these things.”

The explosion of trendy drip bars and home services also comes at a price, draining resources and supplies away from patients with actual medical needs. Lots commonly used ingredients such as sterile water, amino acids, multivitamins and electrolytes have appeared frequently on the FDA deficiency list. Pandemic-related supply chain issues have exacerbated shortages.

“We are experiencing critical supply shortages to the point where even newborns in intensive care units whose lives depend solely on IV nutrition cannot receive multivitamin products,” Hirsch said. “But regardless of whether the patient is a newborn, child, or adult, unfortunately, ingredient diversion has forced many healthcare providers to ration supplies.”

Frustrated by the lack of accountability from IV vitamin therapy companies, several medical infusion organizations released a Joint Statement about the need for state and FDA review. They hope regulators will investigate how these companies are contributing to national shortages, scrutinize claims of health benefits and cures, require them to disclose the lack of evidence and unique risks of administering medically unnecessary compounds, and review approval and applicable regulations comply with regulations .

“Pandemics-related shortages have really pushed us over the edge,” Hirsch said. “For some products – such as multivitamin formulations – we only have one manufacturer for the needs of the entire country. This is totally unsustainable and the implications for our most vulnerable patient populations are profound.”

Lala Tanmoy Das is an MD PhD student in New York City doing research in the field of molecular cardiology. Follow him on Twitter @TanmoyDasLala

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